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I’m everyone’s reflection: Jackie Shroff

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The actor spoke about the various projects lined up for him this year, son Tiger Shroff and why he accepted the role of agency head in Romeo Akbar Walter (2019).

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Sonal Pandya

Veteran actor Jackie Shroff has a busy 2019 ahead with Bharat, Saaho, and Prassthanam all looming in the horizon, but this weekend Romeo Akbar Walter, his latest, released in theatres.

Last month, the star arrived at the Sun-n-Sand hotel in Juhu, Mumbai for media interviews straight from his farm in Pune where he grows a variety of things including banana trees. During our interaction, he spoke passionately about the growing scarcity of water and the ratio of plastic in tap water, before questions returned to his role in the Robbie Grewal film.

Shroff stated that it was Grewal’s dedication to the period project that drew him to the role in Romeo Akbar Walter.

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“[It] was my director, his passion to [tell the story] of the people who set intel in India. We were talking about them first. After Border (1997) for me, after Wing Commander Bajwa, I’m portraying someone [real].”

In the film, he plays the head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the foreign intelligence agency of our nation. Rameshwar Nath (RN) Kao was the first director of the agency which was founded in 1968. Shroff’s character drew inspiration from him.

“I’ve only done my role what was written,” he stated. “I think playing a man who has laid the seed of intelligence.... then it was a seed, now it’s a tree. I think it’s grown to a very big thing. Because of intel, we are all sitting out here.”

The actor insisted that he didn’t seek out roles like these, the filmmakers approached him for it.

“As an actor, I feel they see a lot of different people in me. They see a Sai Baba, they see a Mission Kashmir [terrorist]. They see [my RAW character], they see me as a Prassthanam character so it’s upon the director. They come to me so I see the director, the production house, see the weight of the character,” Shroff said.

Shroff in Romeo Akbar Walter (2019)

“It became like a feather in the cap to do a role such as this. To [play] someone who’s been the father of intelligence in India is huge. I just hope I have done justice but I trust my director and my technicians so much that I’m not worried. But if there is any flaw, then Kao saab’s family, I’m sorry. I tried my best,” he added.

Shroff suggested that he is a director’s actor, allowing the filmmaker to mould him as he sees the character.

“I’m everyone’s reflection,” he explained. “I don’t go thinking about it. I don’t want to wear a mask and go. I want them to mask me, paint on my face, different things. I go as a blank canvas, it could be Hussein baba, it could be Ravi Rai saab, it could be Jackie Shroff. It’s who paints on that canvas.”

Shroff also stated that after nearly four decades in the business, he still receives love and respect from everyone. His journey in the Hindi film industry has been lovely, according to him.

With co-stars Mouni Roy and Sikandar Kher in Romeo Akbar Walter (2019)
Photo: Shutterbugs Images

“You take it like a wave, let the adrenaline rush out when you rush out and take that as a momentum,” he reflected.

He’s even more elated to see his son, Tiger, do well in the same field. “God’s been kind, sweetie,” he remarked, while still hoping to see an opportunity to do a film with him.

When asked what keeps him motivated still, the 63-year-old actor replied without hesitation: Life, darling, life. You live it. I just saw a sunset, it won’t come back again. So I lived it and I’m going to live it until I sleep. Then I’m going to wake up in the morning at this hour and do this.